With its offense functioning at a much higher level than normal, the Lady Hound basketball team posed a serious threat to defending district champion Cameron into the second half of Tuesday night's MEC opener.
The Lady Dragons eventually got control of the game in the third quarter, built as much as a 14-point lead in the fourth but had it cut in half in the final minute of a 55-48 win over hot-shooting Maryville at MHS Gymnasium.
Maryville's Chelsea Byland and Blair Twaddle combined to hit six three's in the game, including two late that created some uneasiness on Cameron's sideline before the clock hit triple-zeros.
The Lady Hounds dropped to 5-8 on the year, 0-1 in the MEC and remained winless against MEC opponents, but showed they could hang with one of the league's better teams.
"I really got to credit the girls and their overall effort," said Maryville head girls basketball coach Grant Hageman. "Everybody came in and contributed off the bench one way or the other. And the fight at the end, they showed when I thought they could've easily laid down, it was very encouraging."
Cameron (10-4) made five less three's than Maryville in the game, but scored 34 second half points on 14-26 shooting after going 9-27 in the first half.
The Dragons also finished 8-10 at the foul line while Maryville went 8-19.
Cameron junior guard Ashli Lykins led all scorers with 19 points and went over 1,000 for her career during an eight-point fourth quarter that helped Cameron maintain some breathing room.
"Her mid-range game is unbelievable," said Hageman. "You can get a hand in her face and she'll still make it. I think she kind of wore us out having to chase her around all those screens."
Cameron sophomore post player Taylor Hamilton tossed in 16 points, with six coming in the third quarter. Speedy sophomore point guard Melia Richardson added 11 points and came up with three steals that turned into layups.
Byland hit two fourth quarter three's and led Maryville with 16 points. Blair Twaddle knocked in four from downtown and finished with 15. Ann Coleman also reached double-figures with 11 points.
The Hounds shot a highly respectable 42 percent for the game, and for the most part, limited their turnovers.
"I was excited to see the girls not hesitate on the perimeter," said Hageman. "They were looking to attack. They were looking to score. We had some girls step up tonight that needed to step up on the offensive end. I was very encouraged by that."
Maryville went 5-8 from the field in the opening quarter and took a 12-11 lead with a minute left after being down seven.
The Hounds were poised to finish the quarter with the lead before Richardson stole the ball and scored to put Cameron up 13-12.
It was a lead the Dragons never gave back.
Cameron scored six straight to gain a 23-14 advantage, but the Hounds countered with seven straight to close the quarter.
Twaddle contributed six points with a pair of three's. Her second made it 23-21.
Byland missed a three at the end of the quarter that allowed Cameron to preserve a two-point halftime lead.
Maryville's run continued early in the third quarter when Coleman used a back pick to spring free for a layup to tie it at 23.
The Dragons never gave up the lead, scoring on four of their next five trips to go up six.
A pull-up by Richardson at the end of the quarter gave the Dragons a 36-27 lead.
Maryville missed six consecutive third quarter free throws and only made two field goals in the last seven minutes, leading to a game-low six point quarter.
Coleman opened the fourth quarter with a basket to make it a seven-point game.
The Hounds had three cracks to get within five or four, but turned it over twice and missed a three.
Scoreless for the first two minutes of the quarter, Cameron produced points on four straight trips to build a 44-31 lead.
Lykins scored three of the four baskets in that stretch and Richardson had the other on a backcourt steal and layup to give Cameron its first double-digit lead.
Byland hit four free throws and a three to make it a seven-point game with 2:13 left.
With the Hounds gambling in a press, Cameron scored quickly in transition to regain a nine-point lead.
The Dragons scored five more points on three free throws and a Lykins jumper to gain its largest lead of 55-41.
Three's by Byland and Twaddle cut it to eight.
Twaddle made 1-2 free throws with 3.6 seconds to keep the final margin at seven points.
"District-wise, Cameron is probably sitting at the top right now," said Hageman. "I wouldn't doubt it if they get the No. 1 seed. Well, you know what, we played with the No. 1 seed and we think if we play them again, it's a winnable ball game."
By Joey Falkoff firstname.lastname@example.org
The Maryville Daily Forum - Maryville, MO
By Joey Falkoff email@example.com
Updated Jan. 16, 2013 @ 12:41 am
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